League Settings: Avoiding Imminent Divorce Within Season Long Leagues
Year 1 - Everyone is bright-eyed and bushy tailed, happy to be included, banter runs a little too friendly. The draft is chalk. The rules: ESPN/NFL.com standard. No one has bragging rights. Ryan brought pizza. Life is simple.
Year 8- Standard leagues become obsolete. PPR runs the show. Carl has won 4x, Richard 2x, and the other two championships were won by auto drafted out-of-towners that nobody keeps in touch with. You are looking out the window, no rings, tons of real-life debt, probably single-- dreaming of a league that is not the same year after yeaaaaaaar.
I am here to tell you, breaking the monotony is not only possible to extend the longevity of leagues/friendships, but also NECESSARY.
There are no more “traditional leagues”. There is a thrill to being a one-of-a-kind league. It will not hurt your research and it will not drastically change how players are ranked. Do not fall into a traditionalist state that many baseball fans do. This is the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE, where only preseason games should be boring.
My childhood friend group started a league 8 years ago. We talked fantasy football 24/7, running the trade block like a group of 13 year old day traders and justifying losses because of the scoring system. We were hard-headed traditionalist fantasy footballers for years but we just ran into too many irritants with scoring along with finding certain plays on the field more valuable to the game than scoring portrayed. As we entered our college years, we continued this league due to our love for fantasy football/competition. It also kept us close as a friend group. With our lives being in 12 different places we realized we were in need of a spark. We started to bend the rules by creating new rules and implementing new scoring systems. This kept everyone stimulated through 16 weeks and our league entertaining (at least to us). There are probably many leagues out there that have lasted 10/15 years with little changes. If it's working, awesome. You do you boo. My humble opinion: Stop letting fantasy football (boomer) websites tell you how scoring should be. Take control.
Fantasy football is a virtual environment that creates an opportunity for you to build a team and have them perform versus another team. Scoring is meant to try and emulate “meaningfulness” of plays, in regard to, the grand scheme of the game. If you can logically reason that a stat is meaningful (WR catching a pass [PPR]), or more meaningful than the previous scoring structure states (QB touchdowns being 4 vs. 6) then you have an argument to change scoring. “Meaningfulness” is abstract and should be fit for your league. NOT the settings big-time analysts consider “meaningful”. Everything is up for debate. Below are 10 ways to invigorate your league by keeping competition thriving, people engaged, and others wishing they could be included.
10 Ways to Invigorate Your Fantasy Football League
1. Please set your league to Full-point PPR
This is my own personal vendetta so bear with me. If it is not obvious already, websites and analysts are transitioning to PPR being the norm and rightfully so. It boosts scoring, gives receiving backs hope, and resonates with the way the NFL is being played these days. There is value in receptions with WR/RB/TE, and frankly, I am tired of acting like there isn’t.
2. Boost Defensive Points
In most leagues Defenses are dull to say the least. There are always some weekly performances (Cardinals- Week 16, 2015), or season performances (Patriots- 2019) where you can brush your boring defensive scoring under the rug. Be better. Defense wins championships in real life. So why can’t it at least play a minimal role in your league. Making interceptions +3 (because they are momentum changing and worth more than a sack) or starting a defense out at 20 (bumping “0 yards allowed” to 10 points) instead of 10 can put pressure on teams to not get comfortable with weekly streaming. Defenses can play an outstanding game in terms of real-life football and only provide 8 fantasy points to your squad. Where is the justice there? Put some respecc on defenses.
3. Provide Boost opportunities
I have seen a lot of creative and modern ways to implement offensive scoring boosts. My favorite is adding +3-4 for a passing TD being more than 40-50 yards. Big plays hit different and on standard leagues they just hit ¿normal?. I would say, if it is a rushing or receiving TD over 40-50 yards, make sure it is boosted slightly higher than a passing touchdown. A QB is more likely to throw more than one 50-yard touchdown than ONE wide receiver is to catch multiple 50-yard touchdowns. Others boosts such as: +5 for 200-yard rushing/receiving games, +5 for 400+ yard passing games, or +5 for 10 receptions can also be great additions. When adding boosts, it’s wise to dip a toe in first. Feel the temp, and if it is warm maybe consider adding your whole foot (more boosts). Avoid cliff diving in, the water may be freezing, similar to the league’s icy disposition toward historical change.
4. Six point QB touchdowns
Not to make this personal.. but grow up. The first person to blame is whoever made QB touchdowns 4 points at the inception of fantasy football. The next person to blame is yourself for allowing it to happen for 5 or more years in your league. A touchdown for anyone is 6 points, plain and simple.
5. Make the waiver wire a budget.
Smart fantasy football players know that if you start 0-2 you are PROBABLY fine because the waiver wire is most cordial early on. For example-James Robinson (2020), Philip Lindsay (2018), and Victor Cruz (2011), the list goes on. Unfortunately, for the rest of the league you were handed these players and it took no skill to pick them up. Consider adding a new way to approach the waiver wire such as a $100 budget for the season.
Now, if you want Mike Davis or Jamaal Williams because their respective #1 RBs are out, you have to be strategic.
No gimmes. Nothing given. Everything is earned.
6. Double points for a Return TD
From my point of view I have never seen this boost in scoring before. The days of automatic return men: Devin Hester, Josh Cribbs, Darren Sproles are over. The closest thing we have to an electric returner is Cordarrelle Patterson and he is signed to one of the most STATIC franchises. League Leaders in Punt Return touchdowns have not recorded more than 2 in a single season since Patrick Peterson (4, 2011). The league as a whole hit the most in recent years (8) in 2020. The league lead in Kick Return touchdowns has not surpassed 1 since Cordarrelle Patterson (2, 2015). Rectify these special occasions, that do not happen weekly, by boosting them to +8, +10 or even +12 if you are feeling dangerous. This does break my, “touchdowns are 6 points” method but this is for a good cause. Give the people what they want (points/mayhem).
7. Field Goal Point System
Due to my childhood friends’ also being the world-leaders in innovation I can’t take credit for this one. Brent Headrick coined a new way of even making kickers more effective. Have you ever wondered: Why kickers don't get the benefit of decimal scoring? Why they have to put 9 extra yards into a 40-yard kick and only come away with 4 fantasy points? Why we deem them unworthy of 4.9 they deserve? If this is a possibility on the major platforms (NFL, ESPN, Yahoo) please let me know and I will stop talking. Losing out on .5-.9 for potentially 3-4 kicks a game adds up to a 2-3.6-point differential. Raise your hand if you have lost a fantasy week by 3.6 or less 🙋🏻♂️. We need this administered into platforms everywhere and be treated as the new normal. I rest my case, your honor.
8. Find ways to liven up Pre-Season Draft order.
I can honestly say, if you wake up on draft day, let a website randomize your draft order an hour before your draft AND sleep soundly the next night… I do not trust you and probably never will. There are infinite ways to select your draft order through offline events. The secret to trying new methods of picking draft order is to make the playing field as level as possible in any given event. You can’t say, “let’s race” when one of your friends is a professional athlete, and the other is professionally out of shape. A tried-and-true method to this would be to start a group for NCAA March Madness and the person with the most accurate bracket, or most points in the bracket challenge, gets first choice of what pick they want. There is no certain methodology to picking the (March) madness and it gives you fantasy football stakes to savor when the season is still months away.
9. Give actual punishment to last place.
As fantasy football has added to its’ audience, this topic has gained the most popularity. Punishments are essential and SOOOOOO much has to go wrong for you to get last. Injuries, bad luck, and close losses can all play a major factor, BUT, no one cares. You most likely suck and deserve to be the laughing stock of the group. There is always something you could have done to be better, and there is no reason for this to happen more than once. First time, shame on you. Second time, shame on the commish for inviting you to this league. Third time… you get the drift. It is time to put perpetual fear into your league members, and make them pick-up players, second guess coaching decisions, trade, and borderline collude with others solely because they don't want the dreaded last place punishment. I will let your imagination run on these punishments. Only rules are making last place follow through and just TRY to make it law-abiding.
10. Play on a website (and stay there) that tracks your history.
For all my history driven competitors, my narrative chasers, my ringless try-hards, and my juggernauts, this is where bragging rights are both made and solidified. Down the road in 20 years, when your league is still kicking with 8 out of the 12 OG’s remaining the same from inception and relatively close in friendship, you will still be talking about year one. It is important to have all the facts straight and the best way to do this is sticking with one website that tracks all of it for you. My league transitioned from ESPN to NFL.com early on. NFL allowed us to add those 2 years of ESPN into our history. Ever since, NFL has kept records, along with other sections we added for “SACKO”(last place).
It's always nice to fact check the defeated and winless people that, “haven’t missed the playoffs” or “have always been competitive”. If you want your league run by fake news, then ask Facebook to get into the Fantasy Football market. Overall, this drives leagues to build-up and break through different narratives that could last one season, ten seasons or the lifetime of the league. Also, it can help you personally improve your streaks of mediocrity and not be able to hide nor neglect your shortcomings any longer. You know who you are.
There isn’t one way to score fantasy football. Avoid being basic, make fantasy football sound cooler than when you talk to your girlfriend about it.